I’ve heard it in podcasts many times and read about it – but now I’m seeing it so often in my clients and contacts: Generation X is the Confused Generation. I’m Gen X, so I don’t mind busting on my own kind.
Run down of the generations (from my Managing the Next Generation CPA Firm post on my THRIVEal.com blog):
Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, about 78 to 80 million folks, currently running our country, most getting ready to retire,
Generation X, born between 1965 and 1977, about 40 to 41 million strong, currently in management of our companies and in the depths of building their careers and families,
Generation Y, or Millenials (a very entrepreneurial generation) born between 1978 and 2000, about 70 million of these guys (depending on who you talk to or what you read), still in school, or graduating from college and beginning their careers (or their own companies),
This is not a study on demographics (though you would be crazy NOT to study demographics as you build your business), so let’s just focus on the guys sandwiched between the Baby Boomers and Gen Y – The Generation X. The Baby Boomers and Gen Y almost equal each other in size, while the Gen X army is half what the Baby Boomers are, and struggling whom to identify with. At half the size, who will they be loyal to? Their bosses or their future customers? As I run into folks my age (I’m 38 born in 1971), I use to assume they loved technology, love to challenge the common place in their organizations, and consumed information in tiny little bites at a rapid pace. But I’m learning that is not so.
Some of my friends my age aren’t using technology, they still order their FranklinCovey day planners (bigger than your Grandmother’s Family Bible sitting on her coffee table), and they do their accounting on paper or in Excel. Then there are some in my generation that are miles ahead of me in building relationships through social media and always innovating in their companies to create new products that have never existed before. Obviously, I tend to identify with the latter.
1. Since newer generations coming up are going to require us to be innovative and on the cutting edge of technology, we need to identify with them because they will become our new customers,
2. Stop the confusion. If in fact your business will be serving older generations that retire (maybe the medical industry), then you need to know whom you serve and serve them wholeheartedly. No more confusion – identify with the generations that will drive your business model into the future,
3. Study demographics, and the changing face of generations in our country. Study what they need, what they want and how they expect you to serve them. They will be your customers. And if you are just entering the workplace, then you will potentially see new generations that we know nothing of yet. Study who behaves in what ways and try to figure out why. It will make you a better business woman.
So this is a call to my brethren in the Gen X category – know who you are! Don’t fall into one camp or the other because that is the way you were taught, or your last boss had leanings toward one management style or another. Study who you want to serve and why you want to serve them, and drive in that direction with vision and precision. What do you think? Am I way off? Leave it in the comments.
Thanks, Jason M. Blumer
Jason M. Blumer, CPA, is the Managing Shareholder of Blumer & Associates, CPAs in South Carolina, and the writer of the THRIVEal blog. He and his firm are notoriously addicted to preaching, installing and improving the processes in their firm, their client’s businesses and their industry as a whole. Their interests lie in helping their clients THINK, RESPOND, GROW and THRIVE. With a niche focus on the newer generations in the professional services industries, Jason and his team often wear flip flops and jeans to work and refer to their client base as “dudes”.